With anticipation, we roll out of bed at 3:30 a.m. on this Wednesday, January 13. The goal is to leave the house by 4 a.m. The thermometer declares the temperature to be 9 degrees below zero on this fine Minnesota day. I think it is a great day to head for Florida. My hubby is the one having trouble getting ready in ½ an hour today and I am the one chomping at the bit to leave. As we are motoring down County Rd 2, I ask, “Did you take your pills this morning?” Soon, we are turning around and heading back to the house. I do not have any extra pills along. They are counted out to the exact number. I bite my tongue and soon we are on our way again. The airport is just opening as we park at 4:55 and I am the second in line to check our one bag. Before we know it, we are on the plane but because of the cold weather, de-icing takes 30 minutes.
My breakfast is tomato juice. My hubby is behind me on this smaller plane in which he cannot even stand up straight. We fly towards a beautiful sun rise with streaks of blazing orange and yellow. By 8 a.m., we are on the ground in Chicago. We have a long walk to the next concourse with just enough time to grab some nuts to complete the tomato juice breakfast. My assigned seat is the middle of the three seats on this flight to Charlotte, NC. I take one look at the big man by the window and realize that I will not survive in the middle seat between him and my hubby as I am claustrophobic and one of my nightmares is being suffocated between two oversized people in these undersized seats.
“You need to sit in the middle seat,” I instruct my better half. This is not a great option for him either as his legs are too long but what is one to do.
By noon, we are rolling into Charlotte. We have just under an hour before boarding our next flight. We are making good time. Another long walk is required to reach our last departure gate. This time I decide to grab some sandwiches for us. There is no price on the chicken salad sandwich that I choose from the display freezer. That seems faster than waiting in line for handmade ones from behind the service counter. As I hand them to the checkout lady, she casually enlightens me, “These are really expensive. Are you sure you really want them?” I stare blankly at her. It takes me a second to comprehend what she is trying to communicate. It seems like a really strange thing to say after I have already waited 15 minutes to arrive at the checkout counter. I don’t have time to go back and start over looking for a cheaper choice so I guess I am buying $14 sandwiches. If it is important enough to inform the customer of this at the cash register, wouldn’t you think it would be important enough to mark the price on them in the cooler?
After enjoying our overpriced sandwiches, we are ready to board the last leg of our flight today to Miami. Again, I am assigned the middle seat. This time I luck out and my window partner is a slim petit young lady. Good – I can breathe. As the flight gets underway, she falls asleep. I notice that in her hands she holds a book entitled Serving God in Dangerous Places. I am intrigued by the book and by my seat partner. In my younger days, serving God in dangerous places would have fit right in with my adventurous spirit. I reach over and gently slide the book out of her limp hands and begin to read. This is a book I must buy. I finally return the book to her unsuspecting hands while she doses on. Later, we talk and I learn that she is on her way to the Dominican Republic to teach in a Christian school there. Before I know it, we are landing in Miami.
There are only two more tasks to check off our list and then we will we on our way towards Duck Keys, FL. We need to pick up our luggage and then find our way to the rental car area. We flow along with the mass of humanity towards the luggage pickup zone. We walk and we walk and we walk. And we walk some more. I swear we must be half way across Miami by the time we finally reach the designated area. Finding the rental car agencies is a reverse of the long walk in the opposite direction. Our steps have begun to drag along the floor and the stumbles have increased. As we follow the signs to “Rental Cars,” we find ourselves at a dead end. There are doors on either side that open and close as other travelers get off and on a subway type transportation.
“Are we supposed to get on the train?” we ask each other. There are no directions posted to guide us.
“I don’t know,” is my frustrated response. “I have no idea where we are or what we are supposed to do.” Well, I guess we get on and go for an “El” ride to somewhere. As we step off when it stops, there is the sign pointing to the rental cars. Yippee!
“What we have reserved for you,” says the Budget rental agent “is a VW bug. Will that be big enough for you?” My hubby and I look at each other – “A VW bug???” How is my 6’ 4” husband going to fit in that? Noticing our hesitation, she continues, “We can upgrade you to a bigger car.” But we instantly reject the upgrade. It seems the rental agencies are always trying to make more money by sneaking in upgrades and extras and we are always getting caught in these endeavors. We soon have secured our shiny black VW bug. With the seat pushed all the way back, my hubby’s ample frame fits nicely into it. There is no back seat left but we don’t need one.
The roads leaving the airport remind us all too soon that we are in the east and out of our driving element. There is not much to do about that but hang onto the wheel and go. We have a four-hour drive to Hawks Cay Resort at Duck Keys which is our destination. It is dark and raining but warm when we arrive. As my hubby slides the seat ahead in our VW to retrieve his camera which he has lain on the floor, a strangled sound escapes his lips.
“What’s wrong,” I ask.
His distressed voice responds, “My camera lens is shattered. It must have gotten crushed by pushing the seat back. I’ve never had a problem with putting it on the floor before.”
“Oh, NO! What are we going to do? How are we going to take any pictures here?”
“I don’t know,” concedes my hubby, “I am hoping the inner lens is not damaged. If it’s not, I can maybe just change the outer lens. If the inner lens is shattered too, my expensive camera is useless.”
What a bummer of a way to end our day of travel. We are both depressed. But given an hour, my resourceful husband has been able to remove the damaged lens and replace it with a new one. The camera is as good as new and we are ready for our adventure in the Florida Keys.